Holocaust researchers had photographs, documents and oral histories about the oppressive street scrubbing practice, but this ephemeral film is the only known moving image evidence of the act. These films, although ephemeral because they were not intended to be preserved for historical study, have the potential to not only supplement but also challenge our knowledge of this horrific event.
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Ask Smithsonian. Photos Submit to Our Contest. Photo of the Day. Video Ingenuity Awards. Smithsonian Channel. Video Contest. Games Daily Sudoku. Universal Crossword. Daily Word Search. Mah Jong Quest. Magazine Current Issue. Give a Gift. Subscribe Top Menu Current Issue. It was thus the fear of the continuing power of the liberation idea, and the lack of certainty that the notion of occupation was sufficiently embedded in post-communist society, which led some curators to avoid displaying any ambiguities of the social response to the arrival of the Soviets in It was a propaganda museum that had represented the Soviets as liberators of Latvia and was used to emphasize the role that Latvians themselves had played in the establishment of the Soviet Union.
Even since the collapse of Communism, it has, for those still ideologically attached to the former system, retained its symbolic significance as a site that formerly represented Soviet power and liberation: it has been used as a starting point for marches on anniversaries of Soviet days of remembrance it has, in addition, been used as a starting point by nationalist organizations marching to the Freedom Monument as a location that, for them, now represents occupation.
Commissions were created in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in to investigate the crimes of the Nazi regime alongside those of the Soviet. Their establishment was closely connected to the emerging realization that the Baltic states were likely to enter NATO and the European Union, and that they needed to find an acceptable way of presenting their histories to an international audience.
Hence the common western stance that the Shoah represented a uniquely terrible tragedy that stands alone was often rejected. Their crimes will never expire and their perpetrators cannot be justified. Our thoughts are with all of the victims of the Holocaust. The Holocaust was placed outside the story of the Latvian nation.
Eastern Front (World War II) - Wikipedia
Such a relatively positive narrative was only possible through the complete exclusion of the Holocaust from the national story. Where it could be deployed as evidence of the Stalinist terror, it was incorporated. In the panels on the Soviet occupations of —41 and —91 in the Riga museum, the persecution of Jews was not related as a separate narrative but rather absorbed into the national story. In the course of the Soviet deportations of June , for example, a far higher proportion of Jewish Latvians compared to non-Jewish Latvians were affected.
The absence of the story of Jewish deportation under the first Soviet occupation meant that the museum provided no refutation to the historically inaccurate yet still commonly held prejudice that Jews, in league with the Soviet authorities, were responsible for the deportation of ethnic Latvians. Elsewhere, however, Jewish persecution was co-opted into a story of national suffering, where it helped to emphasize national victimhood under Communism.
When discussing the Shoah, the director presented the issue in terms of a dialogue between himself and westerners interested in Holocaust issues:.
The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress
First, that it was not really an omission; rather, the number of Estonian Jews killed was relatively small——1, 98 — compared to 70, Latvian Jews 99 and over , Lithuanian Jews, and in contrast to the , Estonians who suffered repression under the Stalinist terror. Third, that these pressures should be resisted in the name of historical accuracy: to give undue attention to the Holocaust would be akin to the rebuilding of parts of concentration camps and claiming them to be authentic.
Fourth, that nations needed to be allowed to tell their own story, and that the specificity of that national account should be respected. It was thus locally inappropriate to give undue weight or space to the Holocaust given its much smaller scale in Estonia. On the one hand, communist-era rhetoric—that presented the Soviets as the liberators of the Baltics from Fascism—was deemed still to be influential both among Soviet era settlers in their countries and in contemporary Russia. On the other, they were faced with a new, powerful Holocaust-centered anti-fascist narrative that was an important part of Western European and official European Union memory.
Facing the threat of these versions of history, these sites attempted to contain the memory of Fascism so that it could not drown out their primary focus on communist era suffering. In some cases, this meant that the story of Nazi occupation was marginalized from historical locations that would have appeared initially to demand its inclusion. Sites at which both Nazi and Soviet terror had occurred often restored only the physical space, and through it the memory, of communist criminality. Where the story of Fascism had entered the museum, it was narrated in such a way that it confirmed the dominant anti-communist script, and its crimes were not invested with the power ascribed to those of Communism.
My thanks also to Meike Wulf for her comments and suggestions. All information on displays is correct as of this date. They are personal and literal; the legitimacy and representativeness of personal memoirs are not questioned. He also describes how June 14 ceremonies, which commemorated the beginnings of the mass deportations in , were much better attended in the late s and early s.
He cites a survey of Lithuanian teenagers, conducted in , which suggested that many considered it important to remember the periods of repression, but that most were not attracted by official state remembrance ibid. Wyman, Charles H. Rosenzveig eds. He was barred from doing so. Criticism of the use of the term to describe Stalinist policies came from the Lithuanian Jewish community, who suggested that the word should not be used to describe a policy aimed at untrustworthy social classes; and from prominent exiles such as Tomas Venclova.
The common defense was that the Stalinist terror system defined whole nationalities as untrustworthy; see Budryte, Taming Nationalism , —4. During the glasnost period, the KGB revealed its willingness to disclose the locations of many mass graves in the Soviet bloc, including that at Katyn. Lithuania was an exception to this, as the Soviet elite feared that such revelations would stoke the nationalist independence movement. So this glass floor is here so that everything will be made transparent.
From personal correspondence of the author with the museum in February It has been suggested that a site within Vilnius was used for the mass burials because of fears about partisan activity outside the city in the immediate aftermath of World War II. After , both estates were nationalized and handed over to the security services of the Lithuanian SSR. The Walicki villa was turned into the summer residence for directors of the KGB, and later a kindergarten and a summer camp for children of security employees was established.
KGB officers lived in three buildings of the manor until , after which point part of the estate was transferred to the Association of Water Sports. From personal correspondence of the author with the museum February Since , however, the Ministry of Culture has begun to make contributions to the museum. Helena Demakova, Latvian Culture Minister since , has been particularly supportive. There have been very few private donations from within Latvia itself; Lazda ascribed this to an absence of a post-communist culture of charitable giving and a reluctance to donate on the part of some Latvian companies who fear that it might affect their economic relationship with Russia.
And my colleagues generally agreed. But there is not a really meaningful opposition to the occupation concept. Olga Kistler-Ritso donated 35 million kroons for its establishment. My thanks to Tim Rees for this point. He announced that he was a schoolchild during the Nazi occupation before reeling off the range of evidence of Soviet atrocities that he saw: women with breasts cut off and pins under their fingernails, and bodies piled up in wells. It was possible that he saw the Soviets do this himself, although his framing suggests that he was taken to see it later under the Nazi occupation Interview with Magnus Kald, director of Liberation , a documentary film show in the occupation museum, Tallin.
Such propaganda is continued during the entire Nazi occupation.
Stanley Vardys, Romuald J. Misiunas eds. It is interesting to note that these occupation museums— the primary aim of which was to refute the narrative of liberation—only occurred in those Baltic states where large Soviet settler populations existed. Divides in social memory between Soviet immigrant populations and local Baltic populations were frequently noted by both academics and journalists.
We can underline general tendencies in the answers of students studying in Russian or in Latvian. This suggestion was made in speeches at the protest at the Bronze Statue on 20 May We can only guess whom you are blaming for all the sufferings. Actually you can say that very few older people come but the youngsters are fascinated. When we opened our home page, it was in Estonian, someone obviously Russian and not too elderly wrote us that we should also do it in Russian, because Estonians tend to accuse Russians and local Russians do not understand for what.
Some would like to know. It was a site where mainly foreign Jews were taken. They were always on the most crucial parts of the front in the Civil War against the external and internal enemies of the young Soviet country. Many soldiers and commanders were awarded high revolutionary honors. Some small-scale local initiatives such as the Holocaust museum in Vilnius came from below, however. Federal News 27 January Nollendorfs, E.
Oberlander eds. The membership of the organization probably constituted a few thousand. James Mark b. His research interests include the social history of Communism and the political and social memory of Communism in post-communist Central and Eastern Europe. You can suggest to your library or institution to subscribe to the program OpenEdition Freemium for books. Feel free to give our address: contact openedition. We will be glad to provide it with information about OpenEdition and its subscription offers.
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Full text. All information on d On the importance of a restrictive set of life stories of the de He also describes how June 14 ceremonies, which commemorated the Zoom in Original jpeg, k. It has been suggested that a site within Vilnius was used for the mass b The Jewish Daily 12 Novembe In , P Olga Kistler The visitor figures for the muse He announced that he was a schoolchild during the In June , the defense ministry provided the museum with its The introduction of this parliamentary act was also trigger Divides in social memory b This suggestion was made i While now acknowledging the existen Actually you can say that very few older peopl It was a site where mainly foreign Jews Some small-scale local initiatives such as the Holocaust museum in Vilnius In a study on the attitudes of Latvian teachers, the author For a discussion of these figures, see Aiva For a detailed description of the diffe Notes 1 I would like to thank both the British Academy for the small research grant which allowed me to carry out the primary research for this article, and the museum curators, directors and press officers who generously gave me interviews and guided tours around their museums and assistance in uncovering material connected with their sites.
My thanks also to Meike Wulf for her comments and suggestions 2 All research at the museums themselves was carried out in the summer of List of illustrations Caption Fig. Author James Mark. Read Open Access. Freemium Recommend to your library for acquisition.